There’s an effort to land new airlines at Erie International Airport. This came about a month after United Airlines announced its final departure would be June 2.       

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership is starting that conversation.

There’s a push to bring more flights to the Erie International Airport. The Erie Regional Chamber is getting local leaders and business owners to develop a plan to attract airlines.

“The competitive landscape is now communities put in incentive programs to attract the airline. We’re really starting that conversation of how we are going to raise the private and public sector money needed so that we can incentivize airlines into our market,” said James Grunke, CEO of the Erie Regional Chamber.

“We’ve really got to be aggressive in putting forward a fund into making Erie attractive. Let’s face it. At the end of the day, airlines are businesses,” said Brenton Davis, Erie County executive.

Local officials said it will take about $1 million a year in order to fund this initiative.

“We will commit some kind of dollars to it, whether they’ll be tax or not I’m not sure. That’s not easy, but we want to be part of the solution, and we’re going to find a way to contribute something to it definitely,” Joe Schember, Mayor of the City of Erie.

One business owner said there are other obstacles that could prevent airlines from coming to Erie.

“We’re still going to be up against the national challenge of shortage of pilots, shortage of mechanics and shortage of planes,” said Nick Scott Jr., Vice President of Scott Enterprises. “Those shortages are going to be the bigger issue but certainly if we can decrease the cost of each person flying to the airline out of Erie, then we could attract Delta and United back to Erie.”

“It’s expensive and risky for an airline to come into a market, and they’re looking for partners and financial incentive — whether it be a revenue guarantee or ticket bank purchases or decreasing their fees — are all necessary to attract an airline,” James Grunke went on to say.